Thousands of rain-soaked migrants stormed across Macedonia’s border on Saturday as police lobbed stun grenades and beat them with batons, struggling to enforce a decree to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe.
Security forces managed to contain hundreds in no-man’s land. But several thousand others – many of them Syrian refugees – tore through muddy fields to Macedonian territory after days spent in the open without access to shelter, food or water.
“In this Europe, animals are sleeping in beds and we sleep in the rain,” said 23-year-old Syrian woman Fatima Hamido after running across the border. “I was freezing for four days in the rain, with nothing to eat.”
Macedonia on Thursday declared a state of emergency and ordered its borders sealed to migrants, many of them refugees from war who have been entering from Greece at a rate of 2,000 per day en route to Hungary and Europe’s borderless Schengen zone.